The Blog

The Nightmare After Christmas: To Return or not to Return, That is the Question

Swathes of lurid elf-print wrapping paper have been stuffed into a bin liner by your stoically efficient mother. Everyone is feeling fat, unattractive and a bit queasy from the Bailey's sugar rush and you're all desperate to go your respective ways before strained relations snap after three solid days of housebound family time.

Swathes of lurid elf-print wrapping paper have been stuffed into a bin liner by your stoically efficient mother. Everyone is feeling fat, unattractive and a bit queasy from the Bailey's sugar rush and you're all desperate to go your respective ways before strained relations snap after three solid days of housebound family time.

These are minor Christmas annoyances, but there was pay-off, remember? Apart from the warm fuzziness of time with your much-cherished but thankfully rarely-seen relatives, your main reward was a goodie bag full of presents to make off with at the end of your yuletide guest appearance.

Congregations are regularly reminded that it is more blessed to give than to receive. But whatever your sexual proclivities, Christmas is a time when you definitely know you want to be on the receiving end, and it better be good.

Of course, lo and behold, it isn't good. Hope of your family getting it right triumphs over experience and, yet again, you're disappointed. The deeply personal presents you have so thoughtfully chosen are reciprocated with sickly scented candles, nasty bath products that will give you allergies and a book you've already read. Humph. Not happy.

Then what? Well, then comes the eternal Christmas dilemma - return it or stick it in the present drawer?

My present drawer is already heaving. Every year I put in unwanted presents in the hope of offloading them on someone else next year, and every year I open it up and think "no, just too awful".

Returning shoddy presents is far preferable. One disingenuous "thanks so much, it's great" later and you should be making a beeline to the shops for some present upgrades.

Tips for present swapping:

If possible take your mother, or the most formidable matriarchal figure you know. They were born to take things back.

If she inexplicably has something better to do, you'll have to go it alone, so...

Get in there early. Chances are your hideous unwanted item will be in the sale and it'll be worth decreasing amounts as January wears on.

Confidence is key. Make it seem as though you're hanging around until they do something - ergo it will be less hassle for them to just give you what you want so you can get out of their hair.

Give the shop assistant some background. We've all had rubbish presents, so give them the sob story of how disappointed you were when you opened it etc.

If they're still being awkward, insist on swapping it for anything else.

Work a sad puppy dog look, whatever it takes to get rid of the fluffy slippers. You'll only end up throwing them out in your next spring clean or worse still, giving them back to the rubbish present giver whence they came. Now that's awkward.